Child support payments can be either increased or decreased at any time before the child who is the subject of the original order turns 18 years old. There are two ways to seek a Maryland child support modification: 1. once every three years either parent can ask the Office of Child Support Enforcement to review the appropriateness of the existing order, or 2. at any time either parent can file a Motion to Modify with the court that issued the original child support order. What follows concerns how to obtain a Maryland child support modification by filing a Motion to Modify.
Material Change in Circumstances
In order to get a modification to the existing order, the parent who motions the court to modify has the burden of showing that there has been a material change in circumstances affecting the family. It is important to understand that not all changes to family’s finances or living situation will cause the court to reconsider the original order. The court will modify the support order only if the changes were “material.”
Child Support and Income Changes
As a general rule, a large change in one parent’s income, usually in the neighborhood of a 25% change, is a material change. While it is possible to request a modification in the event a parent’s income has changed to a smaller degree, it is not guaranteed that the court will consider the change to be a material one. Job promotions, inheritance proceeds, lottery winnings, and other financial windfalls may also amount to material changes in circumstance that can support a Motion to Modify. Unemployment, incarceration, and sickness resulting in the inability to work can also amount to material changes. An experienced lawyer can assist you in laying out your argument that changes were either material or immaterial.
Matthew Baum is an attorney with offices in downtown Baltimore, Catonsville, and Columbia, Maryland. He handles family law matters including child support modifications. He can be reached at (410) 929-3435.